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Grumman Martlet (Wildcat)

On a recent trip to the Fleet Air Arm museum at Yeovilton I was intrigued as to why this Grumman Martlet (Wildcat) had, what appeared to be, not been fully repainted.

Marltets originally intended to be for the French Air Force, however the fall of France in 1940 meant the plane was diverted to the Royal Navy. Marlet's, later renamed back to Wildcats, served with distiction; two airframes forced down an Ju88 attempting to bomb the fleet at Scapa Flow, The first victory for an American built aircraft in British service.

The particular version, an F4F-4, is the only surviving version, having served in Scotland, then transferring as an instructional airframe in 1944.

When restoring the plane in 2007, the team at Yeaovilton discovered that the tailplane, wings and rudder retained the original Grumman finish. The fuselage had been stripped back to bare metal, but the team painstakingly restored and preserved the original paint scheme.

More coming up from this fantastic museum over the next few weeks. When travel resumes, one day soon hopefully, it should be on the list of any aviation enthusiast to visit.

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